Loraine MacKenzie Shepherd, March 10, 2019
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you, our God.
In reference to our Gospel Lesson, a biblical commentator referred to a discussion she had had with her three-year old son. He had gone to Sunday School and learned about this story of Jesus’ temptations. After church, he went over to his Mom and said, “Hey Mom, what do you know about the devil?” Wisely, she replied to him, “What do you know about the devil?” “Well,” he began, “The devil talked to Jesus… [and] was mean.” Then her son leaned closer, dropping his voice, “If I were at the store and you and Dad were in one aisle, and I was in another aisle, and…there was candy…the devil would say, ‘You should take some.’ ”
“And what would you say back to the devil?”
“Oh! I would say thank you!”
Our focus on this First Sunday of Lent gospel story usually rests on the temptations. How was Jesus tempted and how did he resist? How are we tempted and how do we resist? But today I would like us to focus on the very first verse that speaks about the Spirit. “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.”
Jesus had just been baptized and our scripture tells us that the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove. It was with this extra reinforcement of Spirit-filled wisdom that Jesus encountered his temptations.
Infused with the Spirit of God, our spirits are crucial to our health and healing. If our spirits are wounded or broken, it is so much more difficult to face any kind of temptation or challenge.
One of the many tragedies of the residential schools was how they broke the spirits of the children. Poverty and racism have continued to break the spirits of children and their parents. In our walk of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, this knowledge helps to foster understanding and keep those judgements at bay.
But today, we think not only of broken spirits, but also of full spirits of life and love. The Traditional Teachings of the East direct us to the children with their unbridled spirits of enthusiasm and laughter.
This is a good way to begin our Lenten journey. Cree Elder Stan McKay has taught us that Lent is a season of mindfulness. This year, instead of giving something up for Lent, let’s give attention to our spirits. What do our spirits need to be healthy so that they can bring health and healing to our minds, hearts and bodies?
The Cree teaching of the east also points us to the yellow sun rising, bringing us new hope and new beginnings every day. At our AGM, we will begin a new year with a new leadership slate for Westworth. As we move into another year, may we focus on the Spirit of God filling us with wisdom and power to be the hands and feet of Christ within Westworth and beyond.